Body Composition of Field Hockey Players

Anthropometric measurements can be an important factor in the performance of hockey players. There is a discussion about the height and weight of international level players. It is also important to look at body fat levels. Excess body fat would affect the hockey player's ability to move freely around the field, and the extra weight will increase fatigue. Body fat is often measured using the skinfold method, using either the sum of a certain number of sites, or using equations to convert the skinfold measures to a percentage body fat level. There are also other methods to more directly measure body fat levels. Below are some body composition results of hockey players, mostly from elite level players.

Measurements of percentage body fat vary greatly among hockey players, ranging from 8.99% ± 2.39 up to 12.3% ± 2.3 with the average of all elite players being 9.4% (Table A). The lowest female group was 16.1% using DXA while a group of senior non-elite players (age 37.3 ± 10.3 years) were 23.6% ± 4.6, with the elite players average being 17.6% (Table B).

Differences in body fat levels occur between playing positions, with forwards having the least body fat, and backs and goalkeepers having higher levels in both male and female groups (Malhotra et al., 1974; Calo et al., 2009; Sidhu and Sodhi, 1979).

elite hockey players low body fat is an advantage in hockey

Manna et al. (2011) found with increasing age and playing level, body fat levels decreased (U16 = 18.7% BF, senior = 12% BF). Time of season also affects body fat levels, with decreasing levels from pre-season through to the competition phase (Manna et al., 2010; Astorino et al., 2004; Sidhu and Sodhi, 1979). These drops could be explained by challenging preseason conditioning and demanding competition schedules, which has been coupled with reductions in muscular strength (Astorino et al., 2004).

Top finishing teams at a South African national tournament had the lowest body fat levels (Scott, 1991), indicating leanness to be essential in hockey success, although not at the risk of reductions in lean body mass which is important for strength. It is therefore important to monitor weight changes and anthropometry over a season to ensure that the weight change corresponds to fat loss and muscle gains.

Practical Guidelines for Managing body composition

The aim is to keep body fat levels low while optimising muscle mass

  • Optimize dietary strategies to keep body fat levels low.
  • Be aware of periodised training plans, including times of low activity e.g. tapering, injury, off-season etc.

 

Table A: body composition data of male hockey athletes

Author n Group Sum of skinfolds Body fat (%) Body fat (%) Method
Malhotra et al., 1974 24 Olympic level players
8.99 ± 2.39 ∑3 skinfold sites
Sidhu et al., 1979 14 International Indian players Gp 1-high work rate (before-after) 22.3 – 21.2 9.41 – 9.16 ∑10 skinfold sites
Gp 2-moderate work rate 19.5 – 18.9 8.81 – 8.73 ∑10 skinfold sites
Gp 3-lowest work rate 24.1 – 24.3 9.47 – 9.58 ∑10 skinfold sites
Team average 22.0 – 21.5 9.23 – 9.16
Van Erp Baart et al., 1989 8 Elite players
9.6 ± 2.8 ∑4 skinfold sites
Scott, 1991 162 State and National players
11.1 ± 3.3 ∑5 skinfold sites
Boyle et al., 1994 9 International level players
12.4 ± 2.4 ∑4 sites
Manna et al., 2010 30 Indian elite players Baseline data
16.0 ± 0.5 skinfolds
Preparation phase
14.8 ± 1.0 skinfolds
Competition phase
12.3 ± 2.3 skinfolds
Manna et al., 2011 Total n=120 30 Indian competitive players
18.7 ± 2.0 skinfolds
30

15.5 ± 1.4 skinfolds
30

13.9 ± 1.2 skinfolds
30

12.0 ± 0.5 skinfolds
Del Coso et al, 2015 13 Spanish 1st division players
11.3 ± 4.9 Not stated

Table B: body composition data of female hockey athletes

Author n Group Sum of skinfolds Body fat (%) Body fat (%) Method
Ready 1987 19 Canadian women's National team
18.5 ± 5.2 body density
Marshall & Harber 1996 75 Indoor national championship players 63.7 ± 17.5
∑5 skinfold sites
Sparling 1998 12 US Olympic women's team 79 ± 17 (50 – 115) 16.1 ± 4.4 17.6 ± 3.2 16.9 ± 2.6 DXA Hydrostatic weighing
Van Erp Baart 1989 9 Elite hockey
18.6 ± 3.4 ∑4 skinfold sites
Astorino 2004 13 University players
18.1 ± 3.3 ∑4 skinfold sites
Beck 2005 15 College players
21.4 ± 2.5 DXA
Beck 2005 21 Senior players
23.6 ± 4.6 DXA
Calo 2009 24 Italian National team 15.75 ± 3.2 22.8 ± 3.7 BIA
Wassmer 2002 37 NCAA Division II players
17.3 ± 3.8 ∑7 skinfold sites
Krzykala 2015 17 Polish national team
7754 (g) 12.3% DXA
14 Youth elite team
9129 (g) 14.6% DXA

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